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Syracuse University's Gaza solidarity encampment ends after 16 days

Yellowed grass covers the lawn in front of Hendricks Chapel on Syracuse University's campus where a Gaza solidarity encampment operated for just over two weeks, May 15.
Abigail Connolly
Yellowed grass covers the lawn in front of Hendricks Chapel on Syracuse University's campus where a Gaza solidarity encampment operated for just over two weeks, May 15.

After 16 days of occupying Shaw Quad outside Syracuse University's Hendricks Chapel, the Gaza solidarity encampment made the decision to leave Wednesday.

Encampment spokesperson Cai Cafiero said the decision to decamp was made to allow for additional organizational work over the summer months.

"We had made the collective decision that regardless of how the university administration came into our negotiations meeting, that we would start initiating the decampment process with an eye toward using our time, energy and resources toward building more sustainable structures to organize over the summer and in the fall," Cafiero said.

The announcement on the decampment came after a meeting with campus administrators where many of the requests made by the encampment were denied.

In an email to the encampment this week, the university said it would not agree to a demand that the university "establish an investment review and oversight committee" because there is already a process in place. The university also denied the group's demand that Chancellor Kent Syverud release a statement calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

"The Chancellor’s statements issued on October 9 and 16 clearly and directly addressed the loss of life in both Israel and Gaza, and specifically acknowledged the impact on our community," the email said. "Given the number of conflicts across the globe at any point in time, the University uses its voice only to address the impact on our community and does so in a limited way to allow individual campus voices to be heard."

The email closes with the university asking the group to leave.

"You have been afforded an opportunity to have your voice heard by members of the community, and those who disagree with you have been afforded the right to engage in counter-protest," the email said. "However, with the academic year now having concluded with Sunday’s Commencement involving over 16,000 students, their family members, and other invited guests, the university expects you to bring the encampment to a close."

Still, encampment members say they were able to raise awareness and create a community through their work.

"To have that as a topic of conversation or as a thought in the backs of people's minds at all, is vastly different from where we were three months ago, six months ago, eight months ago," Cafiero said.

Cafiero said the encampment's plans for the fall are still in the early stages, bringing the encampment back or exploring other routes will depend on a few things.

"It's going to depend on the university for one, and how willing they are to treat us as equals rather than being dismissive as they have been," Cafiero said. "And then it's going to depend on what we think will have the biggest impact for the causes we are advocating for."

Abigail is a temporary WRVO News Reporter/Producer working on regional and digital news stories. She graduated from SUNY Oswego in 2022 where she studied English and Public Relations. Abigail enjoys reading, writing, exploring CNY and spending time with family and friends. Abigail first joined the WRVO team as a student reporter in June 2022.